Today marks the 17th anniversary of the deadliest terror attacks on United States soil. On the fateful day in 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives.
It was the day that television screens were filled with images of horrifying destruction as American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175 hit the World Trade Center towers and American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. It is believed that United Airlines Flight 93 was to target the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. until the passengers overpowered the hijackers and crashed the plane into a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
To commemorate 9/11, The Gazette took to the streets to ask people where they were when they learned of the terror attacks.
Delaware resident Kenny Collins, 60, said he was working for Ponderosa on the day of the attacks.
“It was terrible,” he said. “I had walked out into the lobby and everyone was watching the TV. It was just after the first plane hit the tower.”
Collins said he thought it was a movie at first, kind of surreal looking.
“I said that must be a really good movie,” he said. “They all told me it ain’t a movie and that we were under attack. Three minutes later, the second plane hit the other tower.”
Collins said he quickly called home to his wife.
“’Turn on the TV honey,’ I told her,” he said. “She turned it on just in time to see the second tower fall.”
Jon Purdy, 55, of Delaware, said he was out taking the test for his commercial driver’s license when he first learned of the attacks.
“It was on TV when I just walked in from taking my driver’s test,” he said. “I saw the second plane hit the other tower.”
Matthew Adams, 35, of Delaware, said he was in high school when he heard the news.
“I didn’t know about it until my U.S. government class,” he said. “Later, we went to JVS (joint vocational school) that day.”
Lorene Boring, 58, of Delaware, said she was working at Meijer at the time and overheard people talking about it.
“Everybody was coming into the store talking about it and how devastating it was,” she said.
Boring said someone had pulled one of the TVs off the shelf and carried it back to the employee break room for everyone to watch. She said as people took their breaks, they would come back to see the news coverage on the terror attacks.
“I saw the second plane,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was kind of scary, because if they can hit there, it could happen here.”
Boring said as more reports came in, business at Meijer slowed down because everyone went home to watch the news.
Jeanne DeWeese, 63, of Delaware, said she was employed with AOPHA (Association of Ohio Philanthropic Homes for the Aged).
“I was working in the copyroom and as a receptionist,” she said. “There were six of us putting together packets for our conference and it came on TV.”
DeWeese said the six of them saw everything that was happening at the time.
“It was horrible,” she said. “You were just in shock. Especially when the second plane crashed.”
Jesse Durham, 22, of Gahanna, said he was 4 years old at the time and only remembers the terror attacks briefly.
“I was doing a 4-year-old thing, playing or something like that,” he said about what he remembers about the day. “I remember my mom watching TV and crying. When I asked why she was crying, she tried to explain it to me the best she could.”
Mackenzie Brunker, 22, an Ohio Wesleyan University student, said she was 4 years old at the time of the attacks. She said she was sitting in her basement watching it on a “really giant TV.”
“My mom was a mess,” she said. “My father was in New York state for the weekend.”
Brunker said she didn’t remember much about the day, but as she got older, she learned about the attacks in school.
“I was sort of sheltered from it until I got older,” she said. “The older I got, the more details I learned from my parents.”
Debbie Steen, 55, said she was in Mississippi on Sept. 11, 2001.
“That’s where I’m from,” she said.
Steen said her grandmother had passed away, and she was in the social security office when it came across the TV.
“Down from where I’m from, they closed everything down very quickly,” she said. “You would see armed guards standing at all the buildings.”
Steen said since everything was closed, she “went home and watched it on TV.”
Gabbie Dorsey, 20, said on the day of the attacks she was in daycare and doesn’t remember anything about the day.
However, the one thing she does remember is that the attacks happened on the day of her grandpa’s birthday.
“His birthday isn’t really a happy day for him anymore,” she said. “I remember later in school having a moment of silence.”
Dorsey said most of her knowledge about the attacks come from a documentary on the attacks that she has watched five or six times with her mother.
“I’ve learned more from watching the documentary with my mom,” she said. “I find it very interesting and fascinating, but I can’t finish it. I have never got to the end, because it’s an emotional investment for me. It’s something I have to step away from.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.